Kamala Harris dropped out of the U.S. presidential race on Dec. 3, just 24 hours before the opening night of This Is The Week That Is. Naturally, rewrites were in order.
Such is the nature of this long-running political revue from 1812 Productions, on stage at Plays and Players Theater through Jan. 5. The show changes as quickly as the news cycle. Perhaps that’s the secret to its lasting freshness year in and year out: Before any one idea can calcify, it’s gone, faster than you can say Beto O’Rourke.
This year’s highlights include a Pyramid-style parody of the Democratic presidential candidates, all tripping over their own good intentions. Effortlessly funny Sean Close, in a pixie wig and Talbots-inspired costume by Jillian Keys, makes a surprisingly convincing Elizabeth Warren.
Hamilton fever arrives to poke fun at Mayor Pete Buttigieg and his unquenchable ambition. Veteran ensemble member Justin Jain lampoons the dark-horse candidate and his weaponized folksiness. Brett Ashley Robinson, Tanaquil Márquez, and Pax Ressler transform the Schuyler sisters into the Congress sisters — Kamala, Tulsi ... and Amy!
Robinson and Ressler are newcomers this season, and Márquez is in her second year; they all inject a welcome dose of millennial flair to the proceedings. Robinson and Márquez hilariously skewer self-care clichés in a spoof of influencer culture.
Dave Jadico, who’s been a cast member since Day One, proves that you can teach an old dog new puns. His rendition of the preshow curtain speech, which devolves into a mock impeachment, had the audience in stitches before the play proper even began.
The new normal is a recurring theme of this year’s presentation — and that extends to the leading lady. Jennifer Childs, 1812’s artistic director, has stepped away from performing. She has also ceded directing duties to Dan O’Neil, who keeps the two-hour proceedings moving at a steady, episodic clip.
Not to worry, longtime fans: Childs has stayed on as cohead writer, with Thomas E. Shotkin.
Some evergreen segments remain. Patsy, the South Philly soothsayer whom Childs has turned into a cottage industry, appears briefly by video. And the second act is still dominated by a satirical news report, anchored by Close. The CNN-style set by Lance Kniskern is flashy as ever.
Head news writer Don Montrey provides a litany of topical barbs, but the segment is not immune to some deadweight. An extended skit involving the spotted lanternfly never takes flight.
The evening always ends with a song. This time around, it’s Queen’s “Somebody to Love,” powerfully performed by Ressler. It’s unadorned, allowing each audience member to make of it what they will. As we head into another fractious election year, I’m choosing to leave with hope.
This Is The Week That Is
Performed by 1812 Productions through Jan. 5 at Plays & Players Theater, 1714 Delancey Place.